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October 12, 2015

12 Oct 1892: first Pledge of Allegiance

On this day in 1892, a group of schoolchildren gave the first recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. It was timed to coincide with the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Christopher Columbus to the New World.

The original pledge was much shorter. Here is the current text, with text added to the original underlined:

I pledge allegiance to my the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Here are some more facts on the Pledge, the name for which was made official in 1945:

  • it was written by Francis Bellamy, a Baptist minister and Christian socialist
  • the “Bellamy salute” accompanied it; it was changed to hand-over-heart in 1942 because the Nazi salute was too similar
  • in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette (1943), the Supreme Court ruled that students cannot be compelled to recite it
  • the words “under God” were added in 1954, allegedly as a tribute to Abraham Lincoln’s use of the phrase in the Gettysburg address

Image: students giving the Bellamy salute during the pledge, 1915; New-York Tribune

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